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Historic Figures

The following are brief profiles on some of the more prominent citizens from Summerton and the surrounding area: 

Joseph Cantey, planter and member of the Commons House of Assembly.  Cantey,  purchased the Mount Hope Plantation around 1739.   He served as a captain in the militia of what was then Craven County. He also served as justice of the peace, then represented Prince Frederick´s Parish in the Commons House of Assembly from1754-1757. Learn more about the Cantey family at Internet Archives.

Richard Richardson, Brigadier General and Legislator. He became a land surveyor and moved to South Carolina in the 1730's.

Richardson commanded the militia of South Carolina in campaigns against the Indians where his reputation as a officer was first noted. In the Cherokee Indian war of 1760 and 1761 he acquired a colonel's commission. Realizing the imminent conflict with England, he was elected a delegate to the First Provincial Congress at which he would assist in framing the first constitution and was elected a member of the legislative council.

Prior to the start of the Revolution War, Richardson was appointed a Brigadier General. Continued disturbances against the Whigs by the Tories in the upstate commanded him to quell the disturbances by force. He brought his army of 1000 men to engage the Tories and later crushed them. This was later known as the "Snow Campaign" and was credited with the drastic reduction in Tory violence and insurrection. Richardson went on to participate in the battle of Sullivan's Island in June of 1776, the battle at Savannah and the battle of Charleston in which the Continental Army surrendered to the British in 1780.

Richardson was made a prisoner after the fall of Charleston and would be confined to his quarters until he fell gravely ill. He was given permission to return home where he died. Colonel Banastre Tarleton, the English Colonel went looking for Rebels and came to Richardson's plantation and soon ordered his men to exhume the deceased Richardson. Tarleton claimed he wanted to view the face of the man with such decided character, but most felt it was to see if the family silver had been buried with him. Before leaving Tarleton would order everything burned and destroyed. Six of his descendants would became Governor of South Carolina. See Carolana.com

James Burchell Richardson was born October 28, 1770, in what is now Clarendon county. He was the son of famed Revolutionary War General Richard Richardson. In addition to being a planter and horse breeder, fought in the Revolutionary War, was active in politics, serving in both houses of the state legislature. On December 8, 1802, the General Assembly elected him Governor of South Carolina. He served from 1802 to 1804. He is buried at the Richardson Cemetery outside Summerton, S.C.   Learn more at SCIWay

John Peter Richardson II, was born on April 14, 1801, at Hickory Hill Plantation in what is now Clarendon county.  Richardson graduated from South Carolina College in 1819 and practiced law upon passing the bar. At the age of 24, Richardson was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1825. He was elevated to the South Carolina Senate in 1834 and won a seat in Congress for the 8th district after the death of Richard Irvine Manning. In 1836, running as a Democrat, Richardson won re-election for a full term to the Twenty-fifth Congress.  

Richardson was elected Governor of South Carolina in 1840. Upon leaving the governorship in 1842, Richardson remained active in politics by participating at the Southern Convention of 1850, the Southern Rights Convention of 1852 and he signed the Ordinance of Secession at the Secession Convention of 1860. He died in Fulton on January 24, 1864, and was buried at the Richardson Cemetery on Hickory Hill Plantation near the town of Summerton.  For more information, see Wikipedia.

Judge Mary Thomasine Grayson Mason - She was born November 7, 1917, in the St. Paul community near Summerton. She graduated Summerton High School and attended the University of South Carolina. In 1940, she enrolled in law school at the University of South Carolina, one of the first two women to attend. She graduated from law school on June 1, 1942. After World War II, she returned to Summerton and worked with her brother operating the family farm, cotton gin, seed processing, and grain elevator.

Thomasine Grayson Mason was elected to the South Carolina Senate in 1966 representing Clarendon and Sumter Counties. She was the second woman to serve in the South Carolina Senate, and on February 22, 1967, she was called to preside over a session of the Senate becoming the first woman to preside over that body. In 1971, she was appointed as a Federal Administrative Law Judge for the Social Security Administration. She served as a Chief Administrative Law Judge for 17 years. In 2008, she was awarded the Order of the Palmetto by the Governor of South Carolina. Judge Mason died on May 4, 2012.

The entire Citadel Class's of 1917 and 1918 eventually served in the armed forces during World War I, with 5 graduates earning the Distinguished Service Cross and 3 more earning the Navy Cross--all presented for "extraordinary heroism". One of these men was Captain Julius A. Mood, from Summerton, S.C. He was killed by hostile fire on July 21, 1918, in Soissons, France. The VFW Post in Summerton is named after him.

Major General Orlando C. Mood, was born on December 1, 1899, in Summerton, S.C.  He graduated from Summerton High School and then attended The Citadel military academy in Charleston. In 1921, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He rose to become Chief of Staff for the Fifth Corps and participated in the Normandy Landing on D-Day in World War II. He later served as the Chief of Staff of the 8th Army under Gen. James Van Fleet in Korea until he became ill and returned home. He died on May 2, 1952.

Other Notable Figures & Families

* Visit Historic Clarendon County to read about other key figures in history. Research your own family history using the
Reference Links available on this web site.

Anne Custis Burgess (1874-1910) composed the music for the state song "Carolina", based on a poem by Henry Timrod. Miss Burgess graduated from Converse College and became a music teacher. She lived in Summerton, S.C. from 1881-1910.

Althea Gibson (1927-2003) was born on August 25, 1927, in the village of Silver just 3 miles from nearby Summerton, South Carolina. In 1930, during the Great Depression, her family decided to move to Harlem, New York.

By 1939, at the age of 12, she was the New York City women's paddle tennis champion. In 1941 she entered—and won—her first tournament, the American Tennis Association (ATA) New York State Championship. She won the ATA national championship in the girls' division in 1944 and 1945. She then went on to win the ATA national championship for women.

In 1956, Althea Gibson, a native of Clarendon county, became the first black person to win a Tennis Grand Slam title (French Open). The following year she won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals (U.S. Open), then won both again in 1958, and was voted Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in both years. In all she won 11 Grand Slam tournaments, including six doubles titles, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame.  See Wikipedia.

Rev. Joseph Armstrong DeLaine (1898-1974) was a minister and civil rights leader from Summerton in Clarendon County, South Carolina. He received a B.A. from Allen University in 1931, working as a laborer and running a dry cleaning business to pay for his education.

DeLaine worked with Modjeska Simkins and the South Carolina chapter of the NAACP on the case Briggs v. Elliott, which became one of the five cases argued under Brown v. Board of Education. These cases brought an end to racial segregation in public schools across South Carolina and the United States.

As a result of his activism, Rev. DeLaine's home was burned down, as was the church of which he was the pastor. He was ultimately forced to leave South Carolina, never to return to his home state before his death.  He moved first to New York City and then on to Buffalo, New York, where he founded another Methodist church. He died in 1974.

Rev. DeLaine had taught school in South Carolina and served as the principal of Scotts Branch school, also known as the Liberty Hill colored school He was also the pastor of Liberty Hill African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church. In 2006, he was inducted into South Carolina's Educational Hall of Honor at the University of South Carolina.

In 2004, Rev. DeLaine and 3 other plaintiffs in the Briggs v. Elliott court case were posthumously awarded Congressional gold medals in 2004 for their courage and persistence in changing the education system in the U.S. for the better, despite repeated acts of community violence against them.  See Wikipedia.

Charles Alexander & Cathy Jane Harvin - Born on February 7, 1950, Charles 'Alex' Harvin was a Democratic Party politician and legislator from Summerton, South Carolina. He represented District 64 in the S.C. House of Representatives of South Carolina. His District covered both Clarendon and Williamsburg counties. He served as a state representative from 1977 until his death in 2005. Rep. Harvin was a member of the House for 29 years, making him the longest-serving member of the S.C. House of Representatives at that time. He served as the House Majority leader from 1982 to 1986. Upon his death, his wife Cathy Harvin was elected to his seat in a special election and served until her own death in 2010.

Dr. Rose Wilder - A native South Carolinian and trail blazing educator, she was recently recognized as the S.C. Superintendent of the Year in 2014. Dr. Wilder earned an undergraduate degree in guidance and counseling, a master's in special education, and a PhD in education administration.

Dr. Wilder began her teaching career in 1979 and 8 years later became assistant principal at Manning Primary School in Clarendon County. She then went on to serve as the first principal of the new Manning Elementary School and later returned as principal of Manning Primary.

In 1994, Dr. Wilder was appointed as assistant superintendent of instruction for Clarendon School District 2. Later that same year, she was chosen to lead the school district and made history by becoming the first African American female superintendent in South Carolina since the Reconstruction era. She served in that capacity for seven years, and in 1999, she was named Outstanding Superintendent by the South Carolina School Board Association.

She left Clarendon County to serve as superintendent for the Fairfield County School District, but in 2004 she returned to Clarendon County to serve as superintendent of Clarendon School District 1 in the Summerton area. The district is now the second highest academically performing high poverty district in South Carolina

Dr. Rose Wilder is an active member of several professional organization, has received many honors during her career, and has served as the President of the S.C. Association of School Administrators.

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